July 31, 2021 #1 Local News, Forum, Information and Event Source for Venice Beach, California.

Rent Control Again: Is This Voted Needed?

By Tom Elias, Yo! Venice Columnist

It was a head-scratcher the other day when the AIDS Healthcare Foundation submitted more than 1 million voter signatures aiming to place comprehensive rent control before Californians next fall, just two years after they rejected the same idea by a 20 percent margin.

But no one in politics today seems to heed what the voters want: Anti-abortion advocates keep losing as they try again and again to enact parental notification requirements for pregnant teenage girls who seek abortions. Bankruptcy judges and state regulators try hard to keep irresponsible utility companies and their monopolies afloat when the public and many elected officials would rather convert them to localized co-ops. And so on.

That’s also how it was last year when state lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom enacted what they billed as America’s toughest rent controls just one year after voters decisively nixed them.

Now comes the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, seeking even tougher controls than voters rejected in 2018 or what’s been state law since Jan. 1.

That new law limits rent increases to 5 percent per year, plus the local rate of inflation in locales where there previously was no rent control, while letting existing city rent control laws stand in places like Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Glendale, San Francisco and others that have had controls for years.

For what it’s worth, those controls have not ended the housing affordability crisis anywhere; some of the highest-priced rentals in America exist in Santa Monica and San Francisco, both of which have had strong controls for decades.

These are also among the densest areas in California, with scores of new apartment buildings rising in recent years to replace older, smaller ones. New construction – usually defined as less than 15 years old, but extending as far back as 1978 in some cities – is exempt from rent controls under most city laws, so it pays for developers to buy up older buildings, evict longtime tenants and build newer units where they can charge market rates, which keep climbing.

The new state law was designed partly to mitigate this and give tenants more stability by making evictions of paid-up renters more difficult, whether they are designed to build new units or merely to raise rents.

The main difference between the new law and the upcoming ballot proposition is that the initiative would end the practice of vacancy decontrol, where a state law passed in the 1990s now allows rents to rise to whatever the market will bear whenever a unit is vacated. The proposition would hold rents at the same limits even when a tenant leaves.

This stricture, claims the California Apartment Association, could drive many landlords out of the rental business. That was one of their main arguments against the losing 2018 Proposition 10, and most voters apparently agreed.

But vacancy decontrol and the lack of controls on newer buildings has put San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego all into the top 10 most expensive rental markets in America for the last 20 years.

So maybe there is justification for ending vacancy decontrol, if that could make housing more available to the millions of Californians who can’t afford to live where they like. Here’s what the affordability crisis means in real life: The average minimum-wage worker would have to put in 92 hours of labor merely to pay the monthly rent on an average one-bedroom California apartment. The situation is tighter than in any other state.

But compared to the new controls the state has already imposed over the wishes of its voters, the new initiative’s main change would be minimal.

In some ways, it’s a form of hectoring voters who believed they decided the matter in the last statewide election.

Of course, as abortion activists and others can attest, no matter is ever really decided permanently in California. The populace is too fluid, with millions moving into and out of the state each decade, to rule out fast and significant changes in public preferences. Which means rent control won’t be the last issue on which voters will get multiple chances to vote.     

Email Thomas Elias at tdelias@aol.com. His book, “The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It,” is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, go to www.californiafocus.net

Related Posts

20-Year-Old Fresno Man Killed in Venice Shooting, Crash

July 30, 2021

July 30, 2021

No arrests made in connectio to Tuesday incident By Sam Catanzaro. Officials have released the identity of a 20-year-old man...

Uovo Pasta Opens in Marina Del Rey

July 29, 2021

July 29, 2021

Soft opening for popular restaurant at Pier 44 By Kerry Slater  Popular pasta restaurant Uovo is now open in Marina...

Opinion: Why the Recall of Mike Bonin Matters

July 29, 2021

July 29, 2021

By Nick Antonicello For the first time in a long time Mike Bonin seems to be actually responding to the...

Police Investigating Fatal Crash, Shooting in Venice

July 28, 2021

July 28, 2021

Details remain murky surrounding Tuesday morning incident  By Sam Catanzaro Police are investigating a fatal car crash and possible related...

Venice Community Housing Receives Honor From American Institute Of Architects: YO! Venice Show – July 27, 2021

July 27, 2021

July 27, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Venice Community Housing Receives Honor From American Institute Of Architects *...

63-Year-Old Man Killed in Westchester Tent Fire

July 22, 2021

July 22, 2021

LAFD investigating Wednesday night incident  By Sam Catanzaro A 63-year-old man died in a tent following a fire in Westchester...

Opinion: Why Silence the Sheriff? Bonin Bashing of Villanueva Backfires at the Wrong Moment!

July 21, 2021

July 21, 2021

By Nick Antonicello Don’t like the message? Please don’t shoot the messenger! For that seems to be the case when...

Bonin’s Encampment to Home Moves 131 Homeless Into Housing: YO! Venice Show – July 19, 2021

July 19, 2021

July 19, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Bonin’s Encampment to Home Moves 131 Homeless Into Housing * LAFD...

Unidentified Skeletal Remains Found in Ballona Wetlands Amid Search for Missing Person

July 19, 2021

July 19, 2021

Authorities make discovery amid search for Kolby Story this past Friday  By Sam Catanzarto Unidentified skeletal remains were found Friday...

Beach Closures Lifted After Sunday Discharge of 17 Million Gallons of Raw Sewage From Hyperion Plant

July 15, 2021

July 15, 2021

17 million gallons of raw sewage discharged from Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant Sunday Night By Sam Catanzaro Beach closures have...

Petition for Recall of Councilmember Bonin Approved for Circulation

July 13, 2021

July 13, 2021

Signature gathering phase now set to begin after Tuesday approval by City Clerk  By Sam Catanzaro The Los Angeles City...

Deadline Extended For Unhoused To Move Belongings Off Boardwalk: YO! Venice Show – July 12, 2021

July 12, 2021

July 12, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Deadline Extended For Unhoused To Move Belongings Off Boardwalk * Pedestrian...

Hyperion Spill Discharges 17 Million Gallons of Raw Sewage Into Santa Monica Bay

July 12, 2021

July 12, 2021

Sunday night spillage occurs 1-mile offshore from Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant By Sam Catanzaro 17 million gallons of raw sewage...